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39 Years of Building Custom Emergency Vehicles Is A Family Affair
Kelly Meyers always had a knack for building and fixing things. In 1998, he started working part-time for his father, owner of Hays Fire and Rescue Sales & Service, by helping him in the shop.
When he heard that his father was interested in selling the business in 2009, he and his wife DeAnn purchased the business to keep it in the family.
Hays Fire and Rescue Sales & Service, LLC., has been building fire apparatus and equipment for fire and rescue departments since 1974. “We build pumper trucks, aerials, brush trucks, and rescue squad vehicles for cities and towns throughout Kansas”, said Kelly.
Within a year of running the business, Kelly knew the business had outgrown its facility and he needed a bigger building to accommodate the manufacturing process. That's when Kelly contacted Ron Newman, at the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) at Fort Hays State University, for guidance.
“The team at KSBDC provided good information and helped me refine my business plan so I could approach a bank for a loan to finance the land purchase and building construction,” said Kelly. During the planning process, Kelly found an available lot just outside of Hays that could accommodate the building. “Since we don’t have a lot of walk-in business, the location of the new property wasn’t the primary factor”, said Kelly.
The new facility was designed to make the manufacturing process more efficient. Kelly believes the new building allows his crew to manufacture the vehicles in half the time it took at the original facility. Each fire or rescue vehicle is built to the specifications of the buyer, so they seldom build two alike.
As the business has grown, Kelly is thinking of hiring more employees in the shop. They started with four shop employees and two salespeople, and now he may hire a few more. “My employees take a lot of pride in the work they do”, said Kelly. He considers his employees as the company’s number one asset.
Kelly and DeAnn Meyers appreciate the Hays community, and have supported their local high schools. Hays Fire and Rescue Sales & Service contributes materials to the shop classes. They have also had college students intern at the shop.
When asked if he had any advice for a business owner thinking of expanding their business, Kelly highly recommended they reach out to the KSBDC for assistance. Kelly said, “Ask a lot of questions and get ahead of the ball before making important decisions.”